Define Wrongful Dismissal

What exactly is "wrongful termination"? Well by itself there is no U.S. government "illegal termination law".

As an employee I understand wrongful termination and how important it is to learn all we can about unlawful termination of employment.

All the states in America have employment laws making illegal firing unlawful. Unfortunately, many employees receive an unfair termination from a job all day everyday. There are a group of federal laws that test if and when your boss fires you it might be unlawful termination.

"Wrongful Termination" begins when employers fire or lay off workers by violating their employee rights. The employee has to prove the firing was more than being treated unfairly. The legal rights of the employee MUST have been abused, broken, disregarded or infringed upon. The following are reasons for illegal termination;

  • terminated in violation of an implied contract
  • terminated in violation of an employment contract
  • fired as pretext of sexual harassment
  • fired as retaliation for filing a complaint against the employer
  • terminated in violation of a union contract or collective bargaining agreement
  • terminated in violation of public policy
  • fired in violation of "good faith or "fair dealing" policy
  • terminated in violation of state or federal workplace discrimination laws

On the flip side of the coin, there is NO illegal discharge if non of the above applies, regardless of how unfair the termination appears. For example, my boss fires me because he and I disagree on politics it's not a wrongful firing. If however, the manager terminates me because I refused to lie to a state inspector concerning the unsafe conditions at a job site, it's likely wrongful termination.

wrongful termination

Wrongful Termination Definition

Wrongful job termination is associated with what I consider to be one of the BEST weapons "bad faith" employers use against the American workplace. What is that you ask? It's called "AT WILL" employment doctrine.

This centuries old outmoded and outdated employment model is a carryover from "merry ole" England. At Will basically means employment is voluntary for both employer and employee. However, employment At Will consistently works against employees and career seekers.

Under At Will your boss can terminate you for any reason, no reason or even unfair reason. You also can fire you boss for essentially the same reasons.

But, the exceptions to "At Will" are those discussed at the top of this page. Some of the most common reasons for wrongful employment termination deal with discrimination based on disability, national origin, religion, sex or gender, age and race.

Several state have laws making other types of discrimination not covered by federal law illegal. A couple of examples of these would be marital status and sexual preference or orientation.

The seriousness of a wrongful job dismissal violation is determined by the laws that are broken. Some illegal termination violations require the employer to pay employees;
  • punitive damages
  • lost wages
  • expenses
The employer may also have to pay what's called "statutory penalties" imposed on it for an employee illegally fired. Statutory imposes automatic liability on the wrongdoer for violating the statute’s terms without reference to any actual damages suffered. For example, your local government could have a automatic penalty of one year in jail and/or $10,000.00 fine for starting a riot.

wrongful termination

Wrongful Employee Termination

Let's take an in depth look at the reasons for being illegally fired. In employment the business is required to obey specific laws.
Breach Of Contract
Employees that are not under "At Will" doctrine, employment is typically for a certain amount of time. When the boss breaks the conditions including the length of time of the contract, the employee has justification to sue for being wrongfully terminated.

The (WPA) Whistleblower Protection Act guards employees from retaliation by employers for testifying against or reporting the employer for illegal activity.

There's that bad phrase again. Most states are employment at will. However, that doesn't give your boss license to violate federal laws such as the (ADA) Americans with Disabilities Act, (FMLA) Family Medical Leave Act, (FLSA) Fair Labor Standards Act, Civil Rights Act of 1964 to name a few. Employers are commonly guilty of illegal dismissal when breaking discrimination laws.

Using Legal Rights
Regardless of "At Will" every employee has certain rights against being fired for things such as taking time off to vote, jury duty or medical leave.

wrongful termination

Wrongful Employment Termination

There are all sorts of games and tricks unscrupulous and even incompetent bosses can and will use to unlawfully terminate us. That's why its important to know when to file a illegal termination claim or suit. That means consulting with an attorney specializing in employee rights and wrongful termination.

There are also good practices the employee can use to determine if the employer is trying to "set you up" for a wrongful firing. There is a set of questions the employee should be aware of that employers use as an employee termination checklist.

There's more about wrongful discharge that every employee should learn. Understanding what wrongful discharge questions to ask will lead to the wrongful termination answers every employee needs to help defend their workplace rights.

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